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Primary ITO: Knowledge to grow

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Training Staff From Scratch The Best Way To Fill Skills Gap

22 December 2017

Finding skilled, experienced staff is near impossible in many industries today – but Chris Logan has found a cost-effective solution that’s working well for his Wellington-based landscaping business.

Chris owns Outsiders Ltd and has embraced on-the-job training and study with organisations such as Primary ITO. Several of his staff either have, or are currently completing landscaping qualifications which teaches them the skills they need in a formal, structured way.

“It’s pretty easy for me to see the value in having trainees working in the company,” Chris explains. “On top of the fact that it’s very hard to find experienced people, any business who wants to maintain a level of experience in their company just has to train people up.”

While many employers opt to train staff members themselves, Chris says partnering with an educational provider like Primary ITO is the best way to go.

“If you’re doing on-the-job-training yourself it’s a much slower process. It’s either superficial or done by osmosis and it can be very hit and miss. Very few employers or supervisors would take the time to be as guided and as detailed as what a formal learning package would provide.”

Chris used to be a landscaping tutor at Wellington Polytech and has written a lot of unit standards in the past. “The material I see provided to my trainees by Primary ITO is very readable and it all makes sense. Their Training Advisor is also very good. He’s very personable and has a good manner with the trainees and is quite understanding of what we do. It’s reassuring that it’s more than a job for him. He’s really invested in it.”

Outsiders Ltd currently employs eight staff and the company specialises in construction work including pedestrian bridges, boardwalks, timber decks, retaining walls and complex structures that require reinforced concrete foundations, drilling and piles. Staff need skills equivalent to those of a qualified builder, as well as garden maintenance and wider horticultural knowledge.

“Landscaping demands one of the widest skill sets of any industry,” Chris says. “My personal goal is to make the public aware of how extensive our skill set really is and to try and lift perceptions so landscaping is valued as a higher wage industry.”

Chris will often assign his staff members to particular jobs based around their training and study needs. However, he also values and encourages versatility as much as possible.

“I don’t pigeon hole people into just paving or just carpentry or just garden maintenance. We give all of our staff the opportunity to get engaged in all the disciplines across the landscape industry.”

Chris believes on-the-job training adds to his staff’s overall job satisfaction as well as delivering an immediate benefit to his business.

“It basically fast-tracks people’s experience and skill set. It’s an investment that you see a fast and measurable return on.”

“It’s also very inexpensive financially and you can make their career incentivized by tying or linking their remuneration to their training which helps give structure to their learning and their progression within the business.”